Some of the group workshopping with director Sarah Gavron (top centre).

Twelve months ago, Zoom was not on my particular radar. Most meetings were in person, partly because that was how we did things, and also because a conversation over coffee was an opportunity to both catch up face-to-face and get out of the office for a while. As a freelancer in a home office, those opportunities were a welcome and necessary part of doing business. Gosh, how things have changed.

I have no idea how many Zoom meetings I’ve attended and organised, but one of those was a masterclass workshop with Sarah Gavron, director of the award-winning “Rocks”. A lot of valuable information was shared, I got to catch up with a few friends, was asked to audition for a production one of the attendees was working on, and even managed to scratch out the first draft of a short screenplay. Thanks to the Winnipeg Film Group for making that happen, to everyone for the questions that made for a truly interesting conversation, and Sarah for sharing her experience and advice … all the way from London, England.

So many things have been turned upside down during the current pandemic, including the way we communicate. I’ve used Facebook Messenger and Skype over the years, but never thought of Zoom as a vehicle of communication. During the last nine months, however, I have attended Toastmasters meetings, been part of a lot of chats with colleagues and various other groups, reunited with friends around the world, including one from almost 40 years back, and got to see my family on a number of occasions. I might not be able to get back to Oz for a while, but at least I can see them whenever we can arrange it.

ScreenCraft Virtual Pitch Competition 2020 judges and winner Lizzie Perrin (middle).

Love it or not, Zoom is now part of the fabric of our daily lives, both at work and at play. Some people describe it as the new normal, but I think it’s more of a different kind of normal, one where communication from afar is more a necessity than a choice, where people are embracing other ways to stay in contact with friends and family, where attending workshops, pitch competitions, and meetings online seems to work just fine, and where technology is helping us keep in contact, even from the other side of the world. Sure, I wish I could see my family in person, have coffee with a friend in a coffee shop, go the library, a restaurant and a movie, and travel to the other side of the world, but if this is all we can do right now, then so be it.

Until we beat this virus, remember to wear a mask, wash your hands, keep a safe distance, and be smart in the way we interact with each other. Stay safe, stay well, stay happy!